Five minutes with Fr Paul Bateman
Tell us about your early life
I was fortunate to be brought up in a devout Catholic family involved in parish life. My primary education was at a very good little country school, my secondary to Intermediate at St Patrick’s College, Goulburn, Leaving at St Columba’s Springwood, where I began training for the priesthood, followed by St Patrick’s, Manly.
Did you see a lot of the Archdiocese during your many years as a priest?
I spent 11 years in Canberra as assistant priest, then Young, followed by Administrator there and at Pambula, Ardlethan, Braddon and St Christopher’s. I served as parish priest at Gooloogong, Temora, Aranda, Boorowa and Gundagai from where, after sickness, I retired at 75 years.
Being a priest is not just parish work; in what other ways did you use your gifts?
I was part-time RAAF chaplain for several years, spent six months in a parish in Ireland and did a course at Louvain University. I was involved with the YCW, Legion of Mary, men’s groups, Cursillo and Archdiocesan bodies such as Ministry to Priests, Council of Priests, Consultors, Catholic Education, remodelled some church sanctuaries and introduced planned giving programs.
Were you busy in retirement?
I lived in my old family home for towards 20 years, offering Mass locally each Sunday if not supplying in most country parishes of the Archdiocese. My only regret was retiring. I think priests would be better off in a small parish now closed or joining another priest to assist where needed.
What do you say to someone considering the priesthood as a vocation?
Pray about it and speak to your parish priest. To enter the seminary is not a final choice; many who do so decide later that their vocation lies elsewhere.